Visit the men’s clothing section in any big-box department store or clothing boutique, especially from late summer through midwinter, and you are guaranteed to find flannel shirts. Flannel and men’s fashion go together like peanut butter and jelly. The male of the species has enjoyed an ongoing love affair with flannel for centuries.

The Stockist, a Salt Lake City boutique with a full selection of men’s clothing, explains that flannel has been around since at least the 17th century. It could date as far back as 16th-century Wales, but the proof for that is kind of sketchy. At any rate, numerous towns throughout Wales, England, and Scotland were known for their flannels from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.

Flannel itself is a woven fabric that can be made from wool, cotton, and synthetic fibers. Wool is the preferred fiber in Europe while cotton and synthetics are preferred in the U.S. And of course, flannel garments can boast single colors or plaids.

Flannel As a Windbreaker

Imagine a beautiful summer day. You would be hard-pressed to imagine men running around in flannel shirts under the hot sun. But wait. What if those men were on the beach with their families? Suddenly, flannel has a use. Its density makes it a great windbreaker year-round. That is important on those summer days when the wind is whipping in off the ocean.

Flannel’s wind-breaking properties also make it ideal for those early days of autumn, when it is still too warm for a jacket but too cool for a T-shirt. A nice flannel will keep the wind at bay without making a guy too warm.

Flannel As a Heat Retainer

The same density that makes flannel a great windbreaker also encourages heat retention. That is why flannel tends to be so warm on cold winter days. A good flannel shirt will trap heat between the wearer’s skin and its inner surface. Throw on a T-shirt underneath and you have an extra layer of insulation.

Some guys are warm enough even in the dead of winter with nothing but a T-shirt and long sleeve flannel. It works that well as a heat retainer.

Wearing Flannel for Comfort

Perhaps the one thing that explains a man’s love affair with flannel better than anything else is comfort. Though there are exceptions to the rule, your average man considers comfort more important than aesthetic appeal. And as far as shirts go, few materials are as soft and comfortable as flannel.

A good flannel shirt is comfortable even during hard manual labor. The fabric wicks away moisture quite well – though not as well as T-shirt material. It moves freely and doesn’t tend to bind. A guy can be comfortable in flannel while doing yard work, chasing the kids around, or walking with his sweetheart in the woods.

Wearing Flannel for Fashion

At those times when fashion is important, flannel offers the benefit of being fairly versatile. A man can wear a solid flannel shirt with a pair of jeans or dress slacks for a look that is neither too formal nor too casual. As Goldilocks would say, “it’s just right.” Even plaid flannel shirts make good fashion sense from time to time.

Flannel has been around for hundreds of years. You don’t have to tell men that. They have been carrying on a love affair with flannel for as long as it has been made. They love its ability to keep the wind at bay. The appreciate how flannel keeps them warm. And above all, they find flannel exceptionally comfortable regardless of the occasion.